EPIX Road to the Stadium Series, Episode 2: Snapping the Losing Streak

This article contains spoilers for the episode, obviously

Episode Two of EPIX: Road to the Stadium Series will be an enjoyable watch for Kings fans, although I'm not sure they will learn too many surprising things about their favorite team. It's a fun but shallow 54 minutes. Some highlights:

  • After a completely unnecessary monologue about the privileges of being an athlete, the show opens with the White House visit. Not too much new stuff here beyond what the NHL had already released; the process seems to have involved a lot of standing and waiting around.
  • After that the Caps game, which was a bit painful to watch. That was one of the few legitimately terrible performances by the Kings this season, and EPIX lingered on each goal against.
  • Whether the Kings are off the ice or playing a game, Drew Doughty gets by far the most air time of any King. That's understandable because he's certainly the most famous King and probably the most gregarious one, too. I just wish EPIX spent some more time on other Kings. I hope you find Doughty amusing, because there is quite a lot of footage of him joking around. Here is Andy Andreoff not taking Doughty's shit:
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  • As in the first episode, zero mention whatsoever of Mike Richards. I get that EPIX couldn't get footage of him being cut. But to not ask any King what they thought of their longtime teammate being sent to the AHL? Bizarre editorial choice, unless the Kings simply insisted that that topic was off limits.
  • The episode switches back and forth between teams about every ten minutes. It was pretty clear after the first two how they wanted to frame this episode: the Sharks would be focused, rolling, and having fun, while the Kings would be dealing with adversity. That narrative felt quite forced at times.
  • The show also contrasts the coaching staffs: Sutter basically just swears at/yells encouragement to his team, letting his assistants handle the technical stuff, while McClellan is more of a calm teacher. I have no idea if that stylistic difference is real or just a creation of the editors.
  • The first San Jose scene involves the kids of Sharks players at practice, bumbling around the ice and finding ways to embarrass Joe Thornton (much like the adult Sharks do). I enjoyed it. (The Kings were on the road all episode, so no footage of their homes or families.)
  • Fun moment before of the San Jose-Edmonton game, where McClellan tells his team the Oilers' blue line has improved, and "free goals aren't there as much anymore." Progress in Edmonton!
  • Fairly nondescript scene of Kings practice. Brayden McNabb got chewed out a bit for being too down about not playing that night.
  • Epix cameras showed Doughty calling for the puck just before Muzzin's doomed pass attempt that led to the 2-2 goal in the Florida game. Sadness all around.
  • No interview with Tanner Pearson, sadly, but he and his crutches were in the background of a few shots. He looked upbeat. Get well Tanner!
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  • No Tyler Toffoli until the very end, when a ref asks him if he's Italian and Toffoli answers "I like Italian food." This was clearly the high point of the episode. More Toffoli next time please.
  • The episode ends on a cheerful note as the Kings go out for a nice dinner in Tampa Bay and clearly have a good time (completely contradicting EPIX's narrative that they were despairing under suffocating pressure), then pick up the road win. The show notes Martinez's exit from the ice, but gives no new information about it.
  • The last couple minutes are given over to a clunky essay about the mysteries of winning and losing streaks in hockey, and how they "defy explanation." A better way to think about this would probably be that random stuff happens in hockey, just as it does everywhere in life. This is a perfectly sufficient and satisfying explanation for 99% of these streaks.
  • Overall, not bad. If you ignore the silly narratives, you'll probably find the insight into the personalities and daily lives of players, mixed with some lovely visuals of the actual games, to be worth the hour.